PORTLAND The new Portland Aquarium is drawing thousands of visitors, but just as business is taking off, one of the owners is facing federal charges.

The aquarium's owner also owns the Idaho Aquarium in Boise. Investigators said he and a co-worker illegally purchased marine life in Florida then had it shipped to Idaho without permit.

Co-owner Ammon Covino was arrested Thursday in Boise.

Meanwhile, the director of the Portland Aquarium said every animal there was purchased through legitimate dealers and with proper permits.

None of the Lemon Sharks or Spotted Rays purchased illegally in Florida was shipped to Portland. Court documents, however, suggest that Covino tried to get some for the Portland business.

The Portland Aquarium opened in December on McLoughlin Boulevard. On busy days it can draw nearly 3,000 visitors a day.

The aquarium is waiting on permits before opening two new exhibits, which they say is an example of how they're following regulations.

KGW reporter Katherine Cook contributed to this report.

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